I enjoy reading books that are inspired by true stories. One such story that has had much written about it is the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 as a result of striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. There have been many different approaches taken in telling this story. A new and refreshing approach to this maritime disaster comes from author Steve Turner in his new book, The Band That Played On, The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic. In his work, Turner investigates and chronicles the stories of the eight men that had played aboard the Titanic and the personal journeys that had brought each of them to that ill-fated voyage.
Turner has done a superb job of telling the story of these eight men without going into detail about the tragedy itself, only sharing what is necessary to tie the story together. He explores each of the band member’s early lives, education, musical passion, and reasons for boarding the Titanic (ranging from the adventure, to the financial support of family, to the challenge of new experiences in their chose field. Prior to boarding the Titanic, these men had experienced limited popularity. Three of them had never been aboard ship, while the other five had moved quite a bit from ship to ship under contract.
At the heart of the book is the account of a number of the band members who made their way to the deck after the Titanic struck the iceberg. The band played on while the ship sank, hoping in some way to calm the passengers in spite of the chaos around them. They remained at their post until the very end with their final musical piece being the hymn “Nearer, My God to Thee”. Much of the information in this book is newly discovered and will be a great find for history and Titanic enthusiasts. “The Band That Played On” is well written, inspirational, and does great justice to the music profession. It serves as a story of bravery, passion, and compassion. I highly recommend it.